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Gyro's - San Francisco

Pier 48, near SBC Park, San Francisco

Reviewed 10/15/05

Gyros San Francisco may have moved down the street from its location last year (from Pier 17 to Pier 48), but the look and feel of the space they have taken over remains the same. The desolate area behind SBC Park now pulsates with lights and sounds and there is plenty of free parking just waiting for you.

Do we recommend you go? Yes. And here's why. The price is a bit high, but Gyro's is offering an experience rather than just a haunted house. The immense space they have is dark and foggy with actors roaming around to scare you and loud music playing. In addition to three haunts, there are games to play in Evil Jack's Arcade in Nightmare Alley and to encourage you to do so they give you a poker chip token (it's a very cool chip - too cool for me to spend). They have a Cut-throat Café that offers food and soda and they also have a lounge that serves beer and mixed drinks! Don't know how they pulled off that permitting process, but hats off!

The primary reason to go is of course the haunts and Gyro's offers three haunted houses: Rigor Mortis, Eternal Darkness, and The Fortress.

Rigor Mortis

In Rigor Mortis, you walk through a maze of cadavers and assorted dead things. Similar to the large space that Gyro's inhabits, Rigor Mortis has a lot of stuff going on, you just have to roam through a lot of nothingness to find it. This is an actor-driven haunt, as opposed to one with lots of props or scenes to look at. In fact, halfway through we got worried that it was just a large maze with a few painted walls (we also wondered if we were supposed to be wearing 3-D glasses). But when the actors finally got involved it got good. Only at the end did they begin to stalk, menace, and terrorize us in a way we haven't seen at Gyro's before.

Eternal Darkness

As we made our way through the post-apocalyptic zombie world of Eternal Darkness, one of the Zombies almost got the Hauntmistress to stay with them by offering to watch TV with her. How did they know that's a favorite hobby of hers! But as much as she loves television, she wasn't about to stick around there and let them suck her little brains out!  Eternal Darkness took us on a twisted maze past zombies and assorted scenes. Again, this one is more actor-driven than prop driven, with nearly all of the scares coming from the creepy characters and virtually none from decor or ambiance. It was a little too sparse with props and decoration and it was slow to start, but picked up towards the end.  Not as many actors (read: scares) as Rigor Mortis.

The Fortress

The Fortress offers something new for Gyro's - it's a maze through a foreboding institution, which climaxes in a strobe-lit chain-link fence maze with gruesome characters popping out at you and jumping on the fences. We entered The Fortress and the Hauntmistress was immediately body-slammed by some guy (a customer, not an actor) running through. It was not apparent which way to go and we wandered through to the end a little confused.

We asked a Gyro's worker if we missed something because it was so short and not very interesting. He told us we had gone through the wrong "entrance". We had actually been pointed to a chicken exit by another Gyro's staff member who misinformed us that it was the entrance to the haunt. By entering that way we had missed more than the first 3/4 of the haunt. This brings me to our main complaint about all three haunts. They are a little confusing inside - some black curtains were exits and some were the correct path to be on, but there was not a way to tell the difference. Once inside the haunts, if the actors are around they try to help you but some say, "Don't go that way" and mean it and others say it when you are, in fact, supposed to go that way just to scare you. We like when haunts are a little confusing on purpose, but we didn't get the impression that our constantly exiting the haunts was something intended. In addition, all three haunts needed lighting on the signage on the outside as to the location of the entrances and exits - at least early in the season when there aren't any lines to indicate where you should be headed.

That confusion aside, when we then re-entered the correct way The Fortress turned out to be a very good haunt and the highlight of our visit. It has a prison/mental institution theme that lends itself well to all sorts of demented fun. A quick decontamination to get rid of our "filthy human germs" so we didn't mess up their "nice clean prison" and we were off on our tour. Being relative, there's all sorts of "clean". There's the five second rule definition of clean and then there's cleanly decapitated. The Fortress' definition, I'm glad to say, is decidedly toward the latter.

The actors in The Fortress were particularly plentiful and enthusiastic in seeking to scare the living shi... well, let's say when they find a "victim" as they did with the Hauntmistress, they don't stop 'till the screams make the victim's lungs ache. As mentioned earlier, the chain-link maze portion of the haunt was the highlight with actors literally jumping up on to the fence trying to tear it down to get to us. This much enthusiasm and energy is what really made this haunt so special.

Gyro's also has haunts in San Jose and Sacramento - perhaps they drive to their various locations in their ultra-cool, pimped out, fog and strobe lit, stretch limo we saw pull up in the parking lot. We didn't get a chance to fully investigate this ride but if one has to travel during October this would be our carriage of choice.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this haunt in our forums!

When Oct. 6 - 9, 14 - 16, 21 - 31, 2005 Sun. - Thur. 7 pm - 11 pm;
Fri. - Sat. 7 pm - 1 am;
Halloween 7 pm - midnight
Where Pier 48, near SBC Park, San Francisco
Admission $24.95
Contact www.3dfearfactory.com

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